Over 16 days, I traveled a lot and saw a lot of basketball. The A-10 women’s tournament in Richmond. The men’s A-10 in Pittsburgh. The First Four in Dayton. The NCAAs in Indianapolis and Louisville.
Now basketball is but a thing on television until November.
But there are memories. Both Dayton teams playing hard and together. The UC Davis men celebrating the program’s first Division I tournament appearance with a victory. The Tennessee women — a program that has played in every women’s NCAA in history.
And the arenas: Richmond — “Think Hara Arena,” said a friend comparing the Coliseum to a Dayton landmark; Pittsburgh — you can tell the building is home to a hockey team; Dayton — the all-time-record-holding NCAA host; Indianapolis — where there was some green among the red on St. Patrick’s Day; and Louisville — a friend who is a native of that city, noted, “College basketball is king and queen in Kentucky.”
And food in the different cities: Richmond, where former UD Mag editor Matt Dewald led me to a different nationality restaurant each meal; Pittsburgh, now a foodie heaven; a nice meal in Indy; and then Louisville, where at a restaurant with 100 bourbons on the menu you can eat tortellini with ham and black-eyed peas.
But mostly I remember the people: friends, relatives, the Flyer News sports editor whom I sat next to on press row in Indy, the reporters from Nashville who showed me how find the media gate under the bridge in Louisville, relatives of players, fans of all ages.
UD is often described in clichés — we open doors for one another, we are family, we travel well.
I remember professor Joe Pici a half century ago asking, “What really is a cliché?”
What if it is true?No Comments
In Roesch Library this spring, Mary’s Star will bloom alongside Easter Spikes, with Mary’s Tears falling near Our Lady’s Veil.
Flowers named for Mary, the Mother of Christ — commonly known as daffodil, hyacinth, bleeding heart and baby’s breath — will be part of the live garden exhibit being planted in the first-floor library gallery space. Mary’s Gardens is open to the public March 25 to May 10 during library hours.
Gardens were first planted specifically for Mary as early as the seventh century. In the early 1950s, John S. Stokes Jr. revived the tradition and brought it to America. His Mary’s Garden research is housed in a special collection at UD’s Marian Library.
“It is really a unique approach to library exhibits,” said Sarah Cahalan, director of the Marian Library, which houses the largest collection in the world of printed materials and artifacts on Mary. “This is an opportunity for everyone to think about how gardening can play a role in their lives and to reflect on the spirituality of our interactions with nature.”
Visitors can stroll down paved paths, reflect at the statue “Seat of Wisdom” and learn about the naming of flowers for Mary, a tradition that stretches back to medieval times. The exhibit, planned by the Library Advisory Committee including Georgiana Nye ’70, Sue Ellen Anderson Boesch ’67 and Linda Arvin Skuns ’63, will also include prayer and meditation opportunities.
Portions of the gardens will be replanted four times to showcase flowers from the four seasons. Marty Grunder ’90 contributed the garden design, and his company, Grunder Landscaping, will plant and maintain the
The exhibit also includes paintings of flowers inspired by Mary by artist Holly Schapker on the library’s seventh floor, and items from Stokes’ personal collection on display on the second floor. Tours will be held April 8 and April 29, and advance registration on the Mary’s Gardens website is recommended.
Much of Stokes’ collection, including planting guides, is also available online.
“Stokes really wanted to make Mary’s Gardens accessible,” Cahalan said. “They were meant to be places of meditation and prayer, and he wanted them to be available even in the hustle and bustle of modern life. He wanted there to be options for people who didn’t have a lot of space or time, so he had suggestions for kitchen gardens, dish gardens. There isn’t just one way to plant a Mary’s Garden. It can be different things to different people.”
For an indoor dish garden, Stokes suggested the hedge-hog cactus, known as Lady’s Finger, with its magenta pink blooms.
For outdoor planting, he offered the pansy — Our Lady’s Delight — for spring blooms and the sunflower — Mary’s Gold — for summer.
Visitors can take a virtual tour of the garden after the exhibit opens. For information on the video, tours, online collection and parking, visit go.udayton.edu/marysgardens.
Mary’s Botanical Beauty, on display
Campanula glomerata (Canterbury Bells) “Our Lady’s Nightcap”
Cyclamen “Our Lady’s Little Ladles”
Daffodils “Mary’s Star”
Dianthus (Pink) “Our Lady’s Cushion”
Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding Heart) “Mary’s Tears”
Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove) “Our Lady’s Gloves”
Gypsophila (Baby’s Breath) “Our Lady’s Veil”
Hemerocallis (Daylily) “Eve’s Thread”
Hyacinth “Easter Spikes”
Iris sibirica “Mary’s Sword”
Lavendula a. (Lavender) “Mary’s Drying Plant”
Chrysanthemum (Mum) “All Saints Flower”
Paeonia (Peony) “Mary’s Rose”
Begonia x hiemalis (Rieger Begonia) “Mary’s Fringe”
Rudbeckia f.f (Black-eyed Susan) “Golden Jerusalem”
Rosa x (Rose) “Mary’s Thorn”
Thuja o. (Arborvitae) “Tree of Life”
Tulips “Mary’s Prayer”
Some people send donations to their favorite charity or nonprofit. Others roll up their sleeves and get dirty doing hands-on volunteer work.
Justin Everett ’11, a communication data analyst in UD’s Enrollment Management Communication Center, is more than happy to roll up his sleeve as well to promote his cause — but not for the reasons most would expect.
Last fall, Everett became a walking billboard for the American Red Cross, getting a tattoo of the organization’s logo on his left arm. It’s certainly a conversation starter, which is exactly what Everett wants.
“I never wanted a tattoo before, but we thought it would be a great way to spread the word about pediatric CPR,” Everett said.
He credits his knowledge of pediatric CPR — and taking numerous Red Cross-sponsored courses in the procedure — for saving his infant daughter’s life.
Little Sawyer Everett and twin brother Korben were born six weeks before their due date in 2015. Both had lung issues and breathing complications from birth, and one month later, Sawyer experienced a near-fatal choking spell.
Justin first learned pediatric CPR in an American Red Cross class as a teen lifeguard and took refresher courses for years after that — including one shortly before his children’s birth. After seeing Sawyer go rigid, pass out and then become limp, Everett knew he had to act immediately.
While his wife, Brittany, called 911, Everett began working to open Sawyer’s airways, as she’d gone two minutes without breathing. He delivered rescue breaths and chest compressions, and finally, she gasped. When paramedics arrived, they were able to stabilize her, although she had turned ghastly white and was still in a limp state.
His quick work saved her life.
“Pediatric CPR is totally different than adult CPR,” Everett said. “I went 15 years never having to perform CPR on anyone, and all of a sudden, I had to do it for my 5-pound daughter.”
When the twins grew older, their organs developed more fully and one day, their breathing issues stopped. Sawyer has no lingering developmental issues related to the lack of oxygen she suffered during the choking episode, Everett said, and both children will turn 2 this summer.
As for the tattoo, Everett and his wife wanted a permanent way to thank the American Red Cross for its services and give a visible call to action to others. Brand representatives from the national organization supported his idea wholeheartedly when he contacted them, down to sending ideas and helping him pick a final design.
In January, national leaders from the Red Cross traveled to Cincinnati, where they recognized Everett and his family in person for his awareness-raising effort and for rescuing his daughter.
Now, when he talks to people about his tattoo, he tells them to sign up for a pediatric CPR class. They could eventually save a life.2 Comments
For the past year, UD’s 19th president has been listening, discussing and discerning how the University’s distinctive character can propel us forward as a national, Catholic leader in higher education.
On Tuesday, April 4, Eric F. Spina will share his preliminary thoughts on the University’s future during his installation ceremony, the centerpiece event of the University of Dayton inauguration celebration April 2-5. The ceremony will be streamed live on the University’s Facebook page.
Spina, who became University president July 1, 2016, has participated in 15 strategic visioning events, during which board members, alumni, donors, faculty, staff and community leaders have offered thoughts on what makes UD distinctive and what the University should work toward during the next 20 years. “While there is more work to do to achieve the bold, aspirational vision that is the objective, this foundational work clearly positions the University of Dayton for success,” Spina said.
The visioning committee, led by Provost Paul Benson and MPA Program Director Michelle Pautz, presented this spring some emerging, signature themes that will be refined into a strategic vision that looks ahead 20 years. These include:
The installation ceremony at UD Arena will include an official commissioning of the president by both the University board of trustees and the Marianist Province of the United States. It will also feature two dozen members of the Flyer family speaking about “Our UD” during an imaginative inauguration filled with tradition and surprises.
Inauguration events are free and open to the public. Click for a complete list and to register for the events.No Comments
Last August, Faith Carver received her master’s in chemical engineering and switched her focus from Dayton to Mars. Her year of working as a graduate student researcher at the UD Research Institute under Senior Research Scientist Douglas Hansen helped Carver land a position in the fuel processing unit of Los Alamos National Laboratory. A UD professor first introduced Carver to the multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator, a long-lived power system to provide electricity and heat to spacecraft. Los Alamos is the first step in a chain of laboratories that are creating fuel from plutonium-238 to power the Mars 2020 rover into infinity and beyond.
How did you learn you got the job?
I got a call right before my last final. They said, “You can accept it right now if you wish,” and I said, “Well, yes, I do! And I have a final in 20 minutes, so thank you!”
Was it a hard decision for you to move to New Mexico?
I had interviews and different offers, but this was the ideal job for me. I love working with alternative energy, I love electro-chemistry — this is a little bit of both — and it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s hard to be away, but I absolutely love it.
Two members of the UD family — your former professor Dan Kramer and UDRI research scientist Chad Barklay — said they created a “survival handbook” to give to alumni headed to Los Alamos; I hear there are five alumni there now.
Yes, and I very much enjoyed it. The handbook ranged from how Los Alamos operates to where to live and fun facts. It made me feel a little more welcome. UD follows you everywhere and it’s great.
Describe your workplace.
I work in a secured area and I’m still waiting for my security clearance, so I’m escorted in. The people I work with include other engineers, doctors, contractors — you name it, they’re here. They come from all over the world to work here. We have our nice work stations right behind the fence of the plutonium facility and I’m around the greatest minds in the country — it’s unbelievable.
What about your job makes you go “wow”?
It’s amazing to look at something and think, “That’s going to space; that will be on Mars in a few years.” It’s incredible, it’s surreal and I want to be actively involved in that process.
What is it like being part of the new generation of researchers to contribute to the plutonium-238 project?
It’s exciting because there are not very many people who do this job. It’s kind of intimidating to be on it because there are people working at the lab who have been doing this for 20 years and they worked on Cassini or New Horizons, and now their projects are in outer space and on Mars. But, it’s also very humbling. You realize they are extremely experienced and you should try to learn everything you can from them.
What is your favorite part of your work?
Beyond the fact that I get to work on things that are going to space, we also work with labs all over the nation — NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory and UDRI. I love it, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
OUT OF THIS WORLD
Since 2010, students have filled 1,592 positions working on sponsored research at the UD Research Institute. In its 60-year history, UDRI has employed approximately 13,000 students. Does that include you? If so, send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marsha Hayden’s 21-year career in the military was a journey for country and self.
Hayden had not decided early in life that she would join the armed forces. Rather, she joined the military because she said she was “looking for a challenge.”
And she found the perfect challenge by enlisting in the Marines in 1977.
In choosing what branch to join, gender and race were of most importance, and Hayden said that she joined the Marines “because they didn’t have enough black females.”
The 1972 physical education major quickly moved up the ranks. When she was accepted into the Warrant Officer Program, she began realizing how much of an impact military life was beginning to have on her. With only a 7 percent acceptance rate into the program, she said she was thrilled at the “awesome opportunity.”
But, her biggest success was getting promoted to major in 1995 — not only because it marked a career accomplishment, but because, as she says, “at the time, there were only five other black female majors in the Marine Corps.”
Her successes allowed Hayden the chance to travel the globe, expanding both her world and personal views.
“The Marines incited my love of traveling,” Hayden said. “I was stationed all over the world and was exposed to many different cultures in places like Europe and Asia. I was even in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War and got to interact with a lot of people there. That really opened my eyes.”
Reflecting on her career, Hayden is proud of her military service as an African-American woman and hopes her story gives others like her the chance to explore their challenges and exceed their own expectations.No Comments
Like many farmers, Dan Kremer wakes long before the sun rises. But before heading outside to tend to his 140-acre farm in Yorkshire, Ohio, he takes advantage of that first hour to quietly reflect.
“It’s really precious time for me,” Kremer said. After that, however, the energetic father of six kids, who range in age from 8 to 23, harvests grain, milks cows, collects eggs and more. His farm, E.A.T. Food for Life, sells milk, cream, butter, cheese, yogurt and eggs as well as grass-fed beef and chicken, pizza crust, flour, bread and even cookies — all non-GMO and organic. Kremer delivers food directly to customers, but E.A.T. also operates a farmhouse site off Wayne Avenue in Dayton. The small, intimate setting allows Kremer to connect personally with families picking up their order.
“We just want to help families eat healthier,” Kremer said. “Food should be flavorful, locally grown and nourishing.”
He should know. Kremer is also a hemophiliac, meaning his blood doesn’t clot normally, so health has always been a priority. It’s part of the reason he ditched a successful corporate career and returned to his family’s farm in 1997.
“It was definitely a calling,” Kremer said. “But it’s where my roots are and where I spent many hours working with my father.” Farm life meant Kremer also had to call on lessons he learned studying mechanical engineering at UD.
“It wasn’t a cakewalk for me, so I developed tremendous discipline and hard work studying for Dr. [Howard] Smith’s classes,” Kremer said.
Hard work indeed. With a herd of 75 cattle, 10 dairy cows and 500 layers, there’s no shortage of labor. It’s why when Sunday rolls around, Kremer takes a much-needed rest.
“God designed it that way,” Kremer said.
Floating down the river, Candice Mortara experiences peace and calm.
Her love for the water and her exposure to the Fitz Center during her time at UD inspired the philosophy major to work to establish the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway.
A nonprofit, the organization works with communities along the Fox and Lower Wisconsin rivers to celebrate and preserve the river’s heritage, which had once brought industry to the area due to its massive hydraulic power.
Mortara, who also received a master’s from UD in 2006, helped organize the grassroots initiative in 2009 and currently serves on its board of directors. Her interest was twofold: to be thankful for the river’s role in incentivizing industry to come to the area and to recognize the river’s recreational potential.
“It’s a place to get out and be surrounded by nature. It flows right through the middle of these cities and allows for an escape that’s right in peoples’ backyard,” she said.
Now, the parkway works with more than 70 partners to enhance programs and build capacity for historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, tourism and education.
Mortara recalled being the most inspired when she saw a woman, paralyzed from the waist down, kayaking down the river — a feat she could only accomplish because the parkway had built boat launches.
“I think it’s wonderful. The river has a way of bringing us together and equalizing our abilities,” Mortara said.
Mortara and her husband also started a commercial business, Fox River Tours, to further attract the public to the waters.
“I think that we’re all so caught up in technology and to responding to demands and people immediately,” she said. “There’s something that gets you back to the core of who you are when surrounded by trees and water. It’s exceptionally important to take the time and to recognize the importance of preserving these resources.”
In the early 1980s, at a nearly sold-out UD Arena, a barnstormer crouched in one of the seating sections, trying to hide his big head among the crowd. Attached by a long rope tied to the Arena roof rafters, he leapt up and soared across the basketball court, cape flowing behind while fans laughed and pointed at the silly, but daring, mascot who brings them so much joy.
For more than 35 years, Rudy Flyer has captured the hearts of fans. The friendly, muscular mascot leads cheers at games, gives high-fives to fans and takes photos with children and alumni — all while fostering and supporting the University’s commitment to Flyer community.
But Rudy didn’t fly out of thin air. The beloved mascot was born at a basketball game Dec. 1, 1980, after years of spirit-filled, sometimes four-legged predecessors. The history of Rudy is a story that involves those who helped conceive him, as well as the Flyer Faithful who have cheered beside and supported him along the way.
The making of this modern Flyer icon began in France in 1880 with the opera La Mascotte, composed by Edmond Audran. According to the International University Sports Federation, the popularity of the opera hastened the translation of the word and concept into English by 1881.
The term was often applied to live animals that U.S. sports teams brought to games to intimidate opponents and entertain fans. The University of Dayton had its own livestock, such as a chicken who once appeared at a soccer game. In 1956, the Flyer News interviewed Pedro the Donkey, which the writer described as having “large, dreamy, brown eyes” and a red and blue blanket with the letter “D.” “I hope to be on the Flyers’ team for many years to come,” Pedro was quoted as saying.
But Pedro’s days — and those of live animal mascots everywhere — were numbered after the popular embrace of the Muppets, those plush, sarcastic creations of puppeteer Jim Henson.
According to the federation, teams in the late 1960s started creating Muppet-like mascots that were friendly with fans and good at helping teams with marketing and public relations efforts.
Up until the early 1970s, the University of Dayton didn’t have an official mascot. In 1972, Gene Schill, the director of athletic public relations and promotions, sent a letter to world-renowned cartoonist Milton Caniff.
In his letter, Schill wrote, “To the best of our knowledge, UD is the only college or university in the country with the nickname of ‘Flyers,’ and it has been a source of irritation to the Department of Athletics that we have not had an official mascot or logo for use on decals, tee shirts, letterheads, etc.”
Ohio born and Dayton raised, Caniff had become famous for creating the comic strips Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon. When asked to draw UD’s mascot, Caniff inked the D-Bird — part bird, part plane to help represent the Flyers nickname while also paying tribute to Orville and Wilbur Wright, the inventors of powered flight.
Caniff described the D-Bird to Schill in a letter, now housed at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State University.
“The drawing shows a winged-goggled-beaked-helmeted creature, carrying on its head a flashing, beacon-like device and brandishing four menacing legs each wearing a different kind of shoe (football, basketball, track and baseball),” Caniff wrote. “The blue helmet bears the U. of D. major letter in red. The bird’s bill and legs are also in the school’s traditional red color.
“The wings represent the Wright Flyer aircraft which gave the teams their nickname of Flyers. The shoes symbolize the major sports in which the University participates while the aggressive attitude of the bird diving out of the sun on its prey reflects the competitive spirit of the various athletic teams.
“Topping it all is the flashing light reminding the viewer that learning is the main issue of any university function. The participants in sports are there for an education. As an antenna, the symbol indicates that these athletes are in touch … they are with it!”
Dayton Daily News sports writer Hal McCoy called it “a weird little creature” when it debuted on a football program in fall 1972. But the D-Bird had huge wings attached to his back and two stubby legs, giving it a form with no hope of translating into a human-inhabited costume.
By the late 1970s, UD was ready to try again, and this time it wanted a walking, cheering mascot.
First, UD identified the person who would inhabit the costume. Ric Cengeri ’81 was an enthusiastic management major with a passion for basketball. He was discovered at the 1979-80 AIAW Women’s Basketball National Championship, hosted at the Arena. While waiting for the Flyers to take the court, Cengeri cheered on William Penn, later helping rally the William Penn fans to push their team to win in the overtime consolation game.
UD’s band director and cheerleading adviser took note and invited Cengeri to try out for the cheerleading squad.
“I was terrible,” Cengeri recalled. “I had all kinds of spirit, but I couldn’t do the lifts.”
The team kept Cengeri from potentially dropping fellow cheerleaders by having him entertain fans with mannequins and other skits.
Around this time, the band director approached Athletic Director Tom Frericks ’53 about getting a mascot costume, said Rory Falato ’77.
“Tom Frericks was intent on building up the basketball program,” said Falato, director of athletic and arena promotions at the time. “He understood the benefits not just for the athletic department but the University as a whole.”
Frericks knew a competitive basketball team would attract students, and Rudy became part of refining the Flyer sports brand. “We started selling Flyer merchandise at games,” Falato said. “There were blue crying towels and kids’ dribble-pass-and-shoot contests at halftime. Get people involved. Fill the seats. Make it family friendly. It’s not just a game, it’s an event.”
The athletic department hired southwest Ohio artist D.W. Biggs to draw the first Rudy, who resembled a 1920s barnstormer, a term used to describe stunt pilots performing tricks with their planes. UD sent the watercolor and ink image to Stagecraft, a Cincinnati mascot design company, where owner Randy Kent brought the drawing to life.
Kent said he started by first sculpting the head, then adding a giant mustache below the bulging nose and topping it with a leather pilot cap. Next came the body, arms and feet, all covered with a flight jacket, pants, gloves and high-top boots.
Just after the costume arrived on campus, it suffered a wardrobe malfunction. The mascot’s goggles came loose and needed to be reattached. So the costume was sent back to Stagecraft, and Kent said he glued the goggles back on and brought it up to Dayton so that it could be used for the game that night, Dec. 1, 1980, against San Francisco.
Cengeri said he put the mascot head on, immediately smelled the glue fumes and became lightheaded. But he performed his role as the mascot for the night.
The following day, the head was placed in the ticket office. Cengeri said that the fumes from the glue were so bad the ticketing employees evacuated the office.
The fumes did not discourage Cengeri, and at the Jan. 24, 1981, basketball game against Marquette, the mascot finally got his name. The athletic department had run a promotion, with fans ranging in age from 4 years to Golden Flyers submitting entries of their favorite names. It was Falato’s idea.
“I had the bright idea to have a name-the-mascot contest with a group of randomly chosen fans who would vote on the name,” he said. He received more than 600 entries, including Pontius Pilot and Freddie Flyer. “It came down to Barney Barnstormer and Rudy. The name Rudy reminded me more of a WWI German Flying Ace. But, that’s what they picked,” Falato said.
Falato took to the Arena floor and made the announcement — and it sounded as if all the fans in the Arena were booing, he said.
“We stuck with it,” Falato said. “Here we are almost 40 years later, and he’s still around. I’m very proud of that, but I will tell you I’ve never had a name contest again.”
Cengeri said it took fans several years to embrace the name, but they warmed to the mascot quickly, making the man in the costume proud.
“It was the best,” said Cengeri, now a producer and announcer with Vermont Public Radio. “I’m a massive sports fan. I love the UD Flyers. To be able to attend every home game and some away games — to be right there on the floor — it was fantastic.”
While Rudy rallied support for the Flyers, the fans began supporting their mascot and transforming him into a cherished icon, said Joe Yokajty ’85, who became the mascot in 1982.
“During my second year as the mascot, Rudy started getting fan mail from some of the kids attending the UD games,” Yokajty said. “It was awesome.”
Yokajty made sure to reward the fans with some antics he knew they’d love, including the night when he got to fly.
Yokajty said he was hidden in one of the seating sections, then jumped out and flew across the basketball court with the cape on his back.
“I am still amazed that President Brother Raymond Fitz gave the ROTC permission to tie me to a long rope attached to the ceiling rafters. I think it was because we were both engineers,” said Yokajty, now an engineer based in Rochester, New York.
As Rudy got older, he not only got more adventurous but also more hip.
“Back in 1983, Michael Jackson first performed his Moonwalk on a TV program celebrating the history of Motown,” Yokajty said. “Rudy immediately taught himself the legendary move and incorporated it into his own dance routine during a Flyer basketball halftime. I swear most of the women in the Arena screamed.
“Rudy’s head might have been even bigger that day.”
The head was big, yes. And hot, with Yokajty losing up to 10 pounds while working football games. And, well, funny-looking.
“At one point Rudy’s face became a bit worn,” Yokajty said. “I overheard folks saying Rudy looked a bit like Mr. Potato Head. That was somewhat embarrassing for Rudy, until the costume was sent away for restoration that summer.”
Fans continued to think that Rudy looked like Mr. Potato Head throughout the 1990s. In 1997, the University decided Rudy needed to grow up.
According to a Dayton Daily News article by Bucky Albers, Rudy received a new blue pilot suit, red satin scarf, black boots, a black leather cap and goggles.
“The floppy-footed World War I biplane pilot who has frolicked at UD Arena for the past 17 years has been replaced by a character who looks more like Chuck Yeager,” Albers wrote in the article, referring to the famed test pilot who in 1947 became the first person to break the sound barrier.
More changes took place in the mid–2000s, Jay Nigro ’06 explained. After he became Rudy in August 2004, the mascot upgraded his blue jumpsuit by adding muscles and a bomber jacket. Rudy started wearing the basketball team’s jerseys and even the same shirt as Red Scare when rival Xavier came to town.
“They pretty much let me go where I wanted to go,” said Nigro, who now owns Liftoff Entertainment in Dayton. “It was a lot of fun interacting with fans,” he added, noting that he would walk to where his professors were sitting. They had no idea who was in the costume.
“It was something I’ll definitely remember about my college experience. Everyone loves Rudy,” he said.
Four years ago, Rudy beefed up his image again — taller, bigger and more muscular, said Adrienne Green ’08, director of marketing at UD Arena. He donned a new muscle suit and got a new bomber jacket, though he does dress for the occasion.
“We get all kinds of requests, even on campus,” Green said about Rudy’s appearances at weddings, alumni events, Christmas and birthday parties, and fundraisers.
Rudy Flyer donned a red satin scarf for a special occasion in 2011. “Guests were entertained by Rudy Flyer, who made a surprise appearance during the reception,” wrote Paula Veihdeffer Markley ’07 for her wedding announcement in UD Magazine.
Becky Dunn Kaster ’07 and Chris Kastner ’07 couldn’t have Rudy at their wedding, so they had the next best thing — a custom cake topper with boy and girl Rudy standing beside a Lowes Street sign.
“Rudy to us means family,” said Becky Kastner, “whether it’s our family members who also went to Dayton, our close-knit friends from UD who are now like family or the alumni community as a whole. Even though we graduated almost 10 years ago, the Flyer spirit remains with us and is something that we are both proud of.”
“We are both big UD sports fans and like to see Rudy motivating the crowd,” said Collin Brown.
Fernando del Monte ’08 and Molly Bytnar del Monte ’07 also named their furry yellow pup Rudy. “The main reason we named our dog Rudy was to remind ourselves of where we met,” Fernando del Monte said. “Our time at UD was so incredible.”
When the Arena marketing crew discusses how to schedule Rudy, they capitalize on his fan appeal to make a good time even better — including delivering free food during game breaks. “People like to get a pizza, especially if it’s from Rudy,” Green said.
Two to four students per school year have the opportunity to be Rudy, and their ideal height is between 5-foot-7 and 6-foot-3. If someone is not in that height range, the suit becomes disproportional, and Rudy loses his powerful image, Green said.
“I have a lot of respect for our students who do Rudy,” Green said. “It’s hot in there, and you can’t see anything. But it’s fun, and people get excited to see you.”
The love for Rudy — and Rudy’s evolution — continues. This year, Rudy will be able to be in two places at the same time; the athletic department had the costume “cloned.”
Such adaptation calls for a formal portrait. As of fall 2016, fans can purchase Rudy’s likeness on T-shirts, key chains and cut-outs.
Although Rudy has undergone many changes throughout the years, one thing remains the same: his readiness to cheer on his beloved Flyers with an army of Flyer Faithful beside him.
Michelle Tedford ’94 contributed reporting to this story.No Comments
“Houston, we have a problem.” Well, not for the over 600 alumni who migrated south after graduation to this fourth-largest and second-fastest growing U.S. city. Not only does Houston attract visitors to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, but it is also where Texas Medical Center — the world’s largest hospital — is located, along with 23 Fortune 500 companies.
For Christmas off Campus 2015, the Houston Alumni Community gathered to help pack 6,500 “backpacks,” providing children with six meals for the weekend. And, the loyal community enjoys having a strong following for basketball game watches throughout the season.
What out-of-this-world experience do you remember having while at UD?
“My senior year the men’s basketball team made it to the [NCAA Tournament] and the whole campus was agog. I don’t remember which game it was, but I stepped out on the porch for a moment. It was eerily quiet. I saw no one walking home, no one sitting out, nothing. And at that moment something happened in the game and I could hear the roars coming from every direction. College sports is about a shared experience, an ownership of our community. And at that moment I was definitely one with my community.” —Mary DeBauche ’90
“The student community at UD is extraordinary. I attribute that to the fact that it’s a Marianist school and students go there for
the faith as much as the classes offered. I was proud to be part of that community.”
—Jason Gavula ’94
“My senior year we had second row tickets in the student section for the Xavier game — that was the most alive that I have ever seen the Arena. We beat Xavier when they were ranked. That same year the team won the first NCAA Tournament game for UD since 1990. I remember watching with all of my friends and being so happy to be a Flyer. Watching the Flyers at UD Arena is really special because the entire community comes together united in support of our team.” —Brad Evans ’09
By the Numbers
Total Alumni 633
Flyer fusions 84
Most 1970s with 158
Arts & Sciences 199
Education & Health Sciences 90
Law 25No Comments